Goalies, Goalies Everywhere.

Goaltender. Like the pitcher in baseball or the quarterback in football, a goalie can win or lose games almost by himself. You can have a bad team and still have a great goalie, like Florida. But you can’t possibly have a Stanley Cup winning team without the goaltending to go with it. Some teams need goalies right now and some teams have too many…

Who doesn’t need to, who might want to, who needs to and, who REALLY needs to get a new goalie?

These teams don’t need to upgrade at all: Anaheim, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Columbus, Colorado, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, Ottawa, Philly, Phoenix, San Jose, Tampa Bay, and Washington.

These teams might be thinking about it: Boston- Is Dafoe healthy at last or is he one more bad knee from early retirement? Toronto- Cujo is UFA at the end of the season, can they be sure to keep him if they aren’t able to sign an extention? NY Rangers- Can Richter come back, and if not is anybody in the organization really ready to replace him? Pittsburgh- Is Hedberg for real or is he another Steve Penny? Who? Exactly. St.Louis- Brathwaite and Johnson are probably good enough together, but if someone comes available, would the Blues be interested?

These teams need help: Edmonton- need only a back up, do they go with what they have at camp? Islanders- Dipietro is unproven, Snow is proven (as not good enough). Atlanta- Rhodes has not been the answer, but they’re deep in backups. Vancouver- Cloutier is still only a back up, and he’s alone!

Goalies are a hard commodity to come by, and finding a great one is near impossible unless you are able to draft one. And yet, some teams have more than their fair share of capable stoppers in the organizations. I count nine teams who could, should or already are in the sellers market.

Buffalo: They have four goalies. Bob Essenssa, Mikka Noronen, Martin Biron and Ryan Miller. Other than Miller, who just set the shutout record (17) in the NCAA, all are NHL caliber now. Essenssa won’t be around forever so the Sabres might not want to part with any of the other three but if the deal was too good to turn down…

Montreal: They too have 4 goalies. Jose Theodore, Jeff Hackett, Mathieu Garon and Vadim Tarasov. It’s no secret that they are trying to trade Hackett, as was reported on HTR, to the Rangers in a package for Nedved.

Atlanta: Deep with backups, they also have Damian Rhodes to unload. The catch there is that Rhodes make over $2 Million a year and hasn’t proven himself to be a starter anymore. Atlanta also has Milan Hnilicka, Norm Maracle and Pasi Nurminen, three goalies who could be decent back ups for any team needing one.

Florida: After bringing in Wade Flaherty to support Roberto Luongo, Trevor Kidd is expendable. He too makes over $2 million though, too much for a back up and he hasn’t been a bonafide starter yet.

Detroit: Hasek has made either Manny Legace or Chris Osgood available, likely the latter. Osgood is a quality goalie but makes $3.5 Million, a team would have to want him pretty bad to absorb all of that contract.

Nashville: Believe it or not, this team has 5 goalies in the organization who could all be valuable to other teams. Dunham is the #1 for certain. Both Brian Finley and Jan Lasak will be important players in the future. Vokoun is of interest to many teams already, and Chris Mason played well in the IHL last year.

Dallas: They don’t need him but they still have Rick Tabarraci in the organization. Plus Turco is getting good enough to assume a starting job somewhere, if not in Dallas. Have Belfour and Coach Ken clashed enough?

Los Angeles: Three’s a crowd, so one of Potvin, Fiset or Storr will be dealt. Sounds like Fiset is on the outside looking in but, that could be a move the Kings regret come January when Potvin has worn out his welcome.

Phoenix: Will the cost cutting continue and will that mean Burke is available? If so, Robert Esche and Zack Bierk are waiting in the wings.

The top four goalies who appear available are Hackett, Fiset, Osgood and Kidd. Vancouver must get ahold of one of them. The Islanders and Thrashers would be smart to try and nab one of them too.

The prospects for Edmonton to find a better back up than they’ve had recently (Dom Roussel last year, Shtalenkov before) is not great. Vokoun or Hnilicka maybe, but would they be any better than what they have now in Jussi Markkanen? (No, I have not heard these names mentioned as rumors).

The waiver draft is in ten days or so, some deals may be made before that so teams don’t lose a goalie for nothing. Some teams, like Buffalo and Nashville, won’t have to worry because they won’t have to protect most of their goalies due to their young age and inexperience. Detroit, Florida and LA on the other hand might have to do something quick.

Give me some rumors that you’ve heard, either trade talk or waiver draft stuff. I’m sure some deals involving goalies are right around the corner.